Modern Foreign Languages

The study of Modern Foreign Languages (French, German, Spanish, Italian) aims to develop students’ communicative language skills and to explore the interdependence between language and culture enabling students to derive enjoyment from language learning. Modern Foreign Language skills are developed across three inter-related strands: communicative competence; language awareness; and socio-cultural knowledge and intercultural awareness.

In line with the Framework for Junior Cycle (2015), new subject specifications for Junior Cycle Modern Foreign Languages and Visual Art were introduced in schools in September 2016 as part of Phase 3 of the introduction of new subject specifications. The National Council for Curriculum and Assessment (NCCA) is now conducting an early insights review to gather feedback to evaluate and explore:

  • how well the specification gets to the heart of the learning aspired to within that subject and more broadly within the Framework for Junior Cycle

  • the assessment elements within each subject, as experienced by students and teachers

  • how teachers are exercising their professional judgement to mediate the new specification in their schools and classrooms

NCCA is inviting expressions of interest from schools to participate in this early insights review of the Junior Cycle Modern Foreign Languages and Visual Art specifications. This review will consist of interviews with teachers and students in selected schools between February and mid-April 2023.

The expression of interest form will close at 5pm on Wednesday 8th February 2023.

The Specification for Junior Cycle Modern Foreign Languages (MFL) aims to develop communicative language skills broadly aligned with the A band (A1 to A2, basic user) of the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages (CEFR) and its descriptors. It also aims to enable students to explore the interdependence between language and culture, to develop their appreciation of the relevance of languages to their lives for personal, social, educational, vocational and leisure purposes, and to derive enjoyment from language learning.

Junior Cycle MFL specification, Assessment Guidelines and Examples of Work are available here.

The Junior Cycle MFL specification was introduced into schools in September 2017. The development of the specification began in 2015.

The background paper and consultation report for Junior Cycle MFL explores the development of the subject at junior cycle; highlights good practice at home and abroad; and to uses evidence-based research to inform the revision of the specification.


The MFL Development Group consists of the nominees from a range of education stakeholders including teacher and management bodies, Department of Education and Skills, and the State Examinations Commission. Reports of development group meetings can be accessed here.

A draft Junior Cycle MFL specification was developed and sent out for public consultation.

Information on the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages (CEFR) is available here.